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Ask the expert: Support in work

No matter how complex your emotions or your circumstances, the Carers UK Adviceline is here to give you the information you need.

Each month we take a question from the Carers UK Forum or a typical Adviceline enquiry, and one of our advisers provides an expert response.

This month Jen responds to an enquiry which often crops up on the Carers UK Adviceline, about managing a caring role which is becoming more and more intensive.


You asked:

I have been a carer for my mother for a few years now, alongside working full time. However her health has been deteriorating, and she is needing more support. It is only recently that I have started to realise that my caring role has increased, and I wondered whether there is any advice for people in my situation?


Adviceline

Our Adviser says:

I am sorry to hear that your mother’s health has been deteriorating recently. Now your caring role has increased it’s a good idea to find out about support that might make things more manageable.

Your rights in work

You mention that you work full-time. Balancing work and care is a challenge for many carers, and it’s useful for you to know about your rights in work, as this can help you make informed decisions and give you the confidence to ask for support. There are certain statutory rights in work that most carers have, including:

  • the right to request flexible working, which could include home-working, part-time working, term-time working, flexitime, working compressed hours, job sharing or shift work
  • the right to a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependent (which includes your partner, child or parents, or someone living with you as part of your family)
  • the right to not be discriminated against because of your caring responsibilities

For further information on all of these rights visit carersuk.org/work

As well as your statutory rights in work, you might also have contractual rights in work which can be more generous.

Support from the local council

If you and your mother haven’t explored the support that might be available from the local council adult social services department, then you could look into getting assessments. It’s possible that the local council might be able to provide support for you and/or your mother that could help with your increased caring role. Getting an assessment is the starting point in accessing help from the local council.

Your mother could get a needs assessment, which would look at her care and support needs. During the assessment the local council would decide whether your mother has any ‘eligible needs’, and if she does they would look to see if these needs are already being met in some way (ie by yourself).

It is therefore really important to be honest about the level of care you are willing and able to provide, and it is completely your choice as to how much care to provide. For example, you could make it clear that you are unable to provide any care while you are at work (if you want to continue in your work).

If any of your mother’s ‘eligible needs’ are not already being met in some way, then the local council must meet these needs. Some examples of the sort of support that might be offered following a needs assessment include: a care worker; equipment or adaptations to the home; or replacement care so that you can take a break.

If the local council do provide support then they would carry out a financial assessment on your mother to see whether she would need to contribute towards the cost.

You could get a carer’s assessment, which would look at your caring role, and whether you need any support in this role. During the assessment the local council would decide whether you have any ‘eligible needs’, and if you do they must meet these needs.

Some examples of the sort of support that might be offered following a carer’s assessment include:

  • help with transport costs
  • help with housework or gardening
  • help to relieve stress, such as a gym membership.

If the local council do provide support then they might carry out a financial assessment on you to see whether you would need to contribute towards the cost, however not all local councils charge for support provided to carers.

For some further information on both of these assessments, you can download our assessments factsheet at carersuk.org/assessments

Note: The above information on assessments is relevant for England, if you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland then you can download the relevant factsheet for your nation at carersuk.org/assessments

Information and support for carers

For some further information and support for carers you can download our Looking after someone guide.

I hope this helps to give an overview of the sort of support that might make your situation more manageable. To get further expert advice contact the Carers UK Adviceline on 0808 808 7777 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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